Uber Wants to Know Where You Are After You Leave the Car

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The ridesharing giant is collecting users' location data from the moment a car is summoned up to five minutes past drop-off (even if the app is running in the background), providing the company with the opportunity to expand its personalization opportunities.

Uber helps customers get from point A to point B with the tap of their phones, but that doesn't mean that the ridesharing company leaves users once the trip is over.

In its Help section, Uber explains that it collects users' location data even when the app is running in the background. From the time users summon a vehicle up to five minutes after the drop off, the ridesharing behemoth tracks users' whereabouts regardless of whether the app is opened or closed.

There are many potential applications for this new functionality. The company recently announced a restaurant guide based on trip data.  

In addition, Uber can track users' location anytime they have the app open and engage with it, as well as through their IP address and wifi signals.

“We do this to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance safety,” Uber says in regards to its location data collection on its Help section. The company also states that it may use location data to show customers' ride history on their receipts, drive personalization (such as through relevant products, promotions, and surveys), and propel analytics at an aggregated level.

Customers are asked to opt in and enable Uber to determine their whereabouts. If they opt out, they must manually enter in their pickup location. Although, it's worth noting that Uber can still access their trip location information from the driver's app and get a general proximity through their IP address, as stated in its privacy policy.

However, Uber is limiting customer choice in terms of how often users let it access their location data. In previous versions of the iOS app, users could determine whether they'd allow Uber to access their location "never," "always," or only "while using the app" (meaning it was visible on the screen). Now, as Thrillist reports, iOS users can select only “always” or “never.” Wired notes that this technically grants Uber access to customers' location data all of the time—as long as the app is open or running in the background; however, Uber claims that it will only tap into this information at the previously stated times.

TechCrunch reports that this isn't the first time Uber has proposed collecting users' location data while having the app run in the background. The technology news outlet recalled how Uber put this idea forward in May 2015, sparking complaints from the Federal Trade Commission.

DMN has reached out to Uber and will update the story if additional information is revealed. 


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